Month: March 2014

2014, Philosophy

The Incredibly Unfair Elections Act

Please read Andrew Coyne’s latest on the Conservatives’ hilariously-titled Fair Elections Act: Any government that feels that it must rig the next election in order to get re-elected clearly should have never been elected in the first place.

Playoffs, Sports

Kill Pro Sports Conferences Now

I have been saying this for years with regard to the NBA and NHL. Here is grantland’s resident graphical analyst Kirk Goldsberry has made a neat little chart of how the NBA playoffs would look this year. I like it, even though the Raps would likely be swept by the Heat.

1952, Music

Bird and Diz (1949, 1950, 1952) by Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie

Somebody else said it best: this is like a better produced version of their earlier sides. (That being said, sometimes it’s hard to hear Monk.) These are the people most responsible for post-war mainstream jazz, but this compilation actually compiles some later sessions (’49 and ’50) and though it’s great to hear them together, it’s …

1957, Music

Dizzy Gillespie at Newport (1957)

There is something in me that wants to see this as some kind of newish generation response to Ellington at Newport the year before but I guess that’s me just trying to impose some narrative on this. I wasn’t expecting to like this, as I am not a huge fan of ’50s big band arrangements …

1990, TV

The Civil War (1990, Ken Burns)

I watched when I was 8 or 9 and never since. On watching it this time, I am amazed I still remember some of it; it obviously had a big impression on me. This documentary is an important landmark – kind of like the American version of Shoah – the first long-form American documentary about …

2014, Movies

Live Reading of Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy (1996) at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Toronto, March 11, 2014

Last night I went to my first “live reading” of a movie script, this has become something of a trend. I wasn’t going to go initially, but my cousin was already going and Monique wanted to go. I had some slight reservations, but I had enjoyed their show in the fall so much that I …

2013, Movies

G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013, John M. Chu)

This is infinitely better than the original, at least technically speaking: the film is not a cartoon posing as a live action film, and the script is far, far better. But this is daming with faint praise; the original was terrible and my rating of 2/10 feels charitable in hindsight. This film is better but …

2010, Movies

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010, Edgar Wright)

I feel like this is another Better Off Dead, only executed much better. Not everything works, but most of it does, and the inventive direction – probably “inventive” only because of how true it is to the source material – does a lot to let us overcome the cliches. Certainly this film could be a …

2014, Travel

Riley Goes to Turkey (February 2014)

You may have noticed the lack of blog posts from me during part of February. That’s because the wife and I went to Turkey. What follows is a summary of what we did.   Why Turkey? Turkey has always been on my list, but it was quite high up on Monique’s. The real reason we …

2013, Movies

Pacific Rim (2013, Guillermo del Toro)

This is about as intelligent and well-produced a re-imagining of Gojira as I can imagine, but that isn’t saying much, is it? I mean Gojira and its offspring aren’t exactly smart movies, and they aren’t exactly the picture of high production values. But Del Toro goes really big, and going so big he seems to …

2012, Movies

That Guy…Who Was in that Thing (2012, Ian Roumain, Michael Schwartz)

This is a pretty poorly made documentary – there’s no consistency from one part to the next. For example, out of the blue they put a question for the interviewees up on the screen, but they only do it once and there is no obvious reason for it. Nor are there obvious reasons for any …

2008, Movies

Outlander (2008, Howard McCain)

I really wish movies like this would try just a little. Just a little. This is essentially Vikings and Aliens but it wouldn’t be so horrible if a little more effort was put into it: Canada substitutes for Norway – which might not be so bad if the CGI weren’t so terrible but it regularly …

1977, Books, Non-Fiction

In Patagonia (1977) by Bruce Chatwin

Part travelog, part oral history, part amateur archaeological text, part memoir. Totally unique and a far cry from Theroux’s more traditional travel writing. Theroux takes the train, Chatwin hitchhikes – and perhaps that is why their experiences are so different. Chatwin is also much more concerned with local memory / mythology as history rather than …

2008, Books, Fiction

Indignation (2008) by Philip Roth

This has some great moments but on the whole it feels a little forced, for lack of a better word. I feel like the whole “dead narrator” thing is unnecessary, though I’m not sure how I’d fix it. When I was on the bus that I read this on, I was having trouble putting my …

1980, Books, Fiction

The Viceroy of Ouidah (1980) by Bruce Chatwin

Is this mythology as history? Or maybe narrative journalism as history? I saw Cobra Verde ages ago and I didn’t know this was the source material. If memory serves, it was very liberally adapted. This is an absolutely crazy story, and at this remove I’m not sure if it matters what is true and what …

1948, Books, Fiction

No Exit and Three Other Plays by Jean Paul Sartre

No Exit is iconic and important, even if it is a little obvious in retrospect and even if Sartre’s ideas have become a little cliche. (Well, that’s to his credit, isn’t it?) (9/10)I haven’t read Electra (the Sophocles version) in forever but I feel like The Flies is an interesting reworking of the myth / …

2011, Movies

Retreat (2011, Carl Tibbetts)

The problem with this film is the moral is essentially “never trust anyone, except when you should trust them” and we can’t work with that. The acting is far better than the script deserves. The script spends it’s entire time trying to get us to buy one thing, and then another, and then another, while …